Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Cosmopolitan, San Diego

The Cosmopolitan
Mexican cuisine in Old Town San Diego, in a pretty courtyard in an old building.

Old Town San Diego is a state park preserving many of the buildings and streets of the original San Diego, at least in a 2 x 3 block area. Dirt streets and adobe-style buildings house modern restaurants and tchotchke stores now. As a tourist destination, it probably ranks between Seaworld and museums, but at least some of the restaurants are good.

The Cosmopolitan was recommended by several people in its prior incarnation as Casa de Bandini, so we were eager to give it a shot. The building is mostly there to frame the courtyard; the host station is just in the entryway, mere feet from the entrance to the central atrium. A matronly grandmother type led us outside, where fountains and flowers create a nice, relaxing atmosphere for the roving mariachi band to ruin. We were fortunate to escape them.

Chips and salsa arrived immediately: three different kinds of salsa, none of which skimp on the spice. One was too hot for me, the others tolerable, but everyone else enjoyed them. Everything on the menu looks good, and from the sampling we got, doesn't disappoint. The Burrito Camarones, chicken Enchiladas, and soft tacos were all good, and devoured quickly. Not too spicy for me, but flavorful, and the beans and rice were good garnishes. Those who got margaritas found them rather fruity and not too strong.

The real problem was the service. Once the chips were brought and our order taken, we had to flag down the server twice to get anything: more chips, a wedge of lime. The caesar salad we ordered with dinner never came, and when the server noticed it, she didn't seem particularly apologetic, asking only, "oh, that never came out?" We told her to just remove it from the bill. She did, but it took a while for us to get the bill at all. Perhaps that's just the laid-back culture, or maybe it was a busy night, but it was noticeable and it annoyed us just a touch. The food wasn't that good that we'd go out of our way to go back--though if we found ourselves in Old Town again, we certainly wouldn't avoid it.

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